Elvis Presley. King of rock and roll and called ‘Elvis.’ What else was he gonna be? Mortgage salesman? I don’t think so. “Hi, I’m Elvis and I’m here to talk to you about putting your first foot on the property ladder.” People like that are not named Elvis. They’re named Gary. I didn’t think ‘Elvis’ was his real name, but it was. It comes from a combination of the Germanic words for ‘healthy’ and ‘wide,’ and one of those things Elvis certainly was. The King was, simply put, one of the most celebrated and most influential musicians of the 20th century. Sadly, Presley’s later years were riddled with strife. He finally gave up the ghost in 1977, aged only 42. But some believe this was not the end. Some believe he faked his death. Some believe The King is still with us. Now, in 2017, he’d only be 82, after all. But surely, surely, Elvis is gone. Surely he can’t be still alive, right? Right? ’Tis the question…
The officials were quick to state that drug use was a huge factor in the death of the legend. Anaphylactic shock brought on by codeine pills. Soon, conspiracies were rife. The autopsy was infamously handled with about as much care as an infant handling a chocolate bar. Various conflicting reports were released, all pointing toward different conclusions. Soon, many were reporting a ‘cover-up.’ Many pointed the finger toward his physician, Dr. Nichopoulos, who had prescribed Elvis more than 10,000 doses of sedatives, amphetamines and narcotics in the first eight months of 1977 alone. He was exonerated, but pressure was mounting for a new autopsy. Many wanted answers. In 1994, the case was reopened. Coroner Dr. Joseph Davis declared that Elvis did not die from drugs, but a sudden, violent heart attack. Officially, the cause of death was never given. With so much confusion and reports of conspiracies and cover-ups piling on top of one another, it was inevitable that the issue of a faked death would raise its head.
So what is the truth? Some point toward the spelling on the gravestone as ‘proof’ The Kings lives. Yes, seriously, the actual spelling on the actual gravestone. Elvis’ middle name was Gary… no, I’m kidding, it was Aaron, but spelt with only one ‘A’ on his gravestone. One ‘A’ is incorrect, obviously, however, in every autograph we have of Elvis, he spells ‘Aaron’ with only one ‘A’. We don’t know why but we do know it was his father who chose the double A spelling for the gravestone. Why anyone would think this is proof Elvis lives is something of a mystery, but to most sane and rational people, it’s little more than a misspelling.
Then there’s the insurance policy, and this carries a bit more weight. Some claim Elvis’ insurance policy is still active, some 40 years after his passing. If he were alive, collecting on a life insurance policy would be fraud. However, such a policy never even existed. Then there are those who believe his body was replaced at Graceland. According to this theory, the body found and ultimately buried was not that of Elvis, but someone else, part of an elaborate cover-up to hide the truth that Elvis lived. Of course, this theory is also nonsense. Those who created this theory based Elvis’ autopsy reports on medical reports of his when he was hospitalised several years prior to his death. The fact they didn’t match doesn’t prove anything, only that people change the older they get and that Elvis’ health had seriously worsened in those years. Worse still, the figures were incorrectly analysed and, upon further investigation, actually prove it was Elvis’ body found at Graceland.
Others think Elvis entered witness protection, a federal agent appointed by President Richard Nixon. It’s believed the life of Elvis was in danger and he had to ‘disappear.’ Of course, Elvis was never a ‘federal agent’ but was a Special Assistant for the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. Yes, seriously. But it was only an honorary position. There is no evidence Presley was ever threatened by anyone. He never even testified against anyone.
Oh, but what about all the ‘sightings’? Okay. They might have the same gait or the same hair, and people might jump to conclusions, but nothing has ever been proven. Many believers claim Elvis was seen purchasing a ticket at Memphis International Airport, but no international tickets were sold from said airport months either side of Elvis’ death.
A name misspelt on a gravestone. Insurance policies. Body swapping. Witness protection. Numerous sightings. The list goes on and on. As recently as 2016, a gentleman working at Graceland was thought by some to be Elvis himself, although why he’d be out and about tending to the plants is a mystery. It wasn’t Elvis. His name is Bill Barmer and he was, simply, a gardener. Fanatics have shown videos of Bill alongside old footage of Elvis in an attempt to ‘prove’ they are one in the same, citing the gait and face shape. Others think Elvis was an extra in Home Alone. Seriously. Although it looks nothing like him. And others still think he was in a photo taken in 1984, alongside his pal Muhammad Ali. Ali was asked about this and said, “That’s my friend, Elvis,” although, of course, he could’ve had two friends named Elvis…
It’s obvious that The King is dead, but long live The King, eh? People want him to be alive and I get that. I know what it’s like to lose someone you treasure and to see that person everywhere and in everything. It’s not much of a leap to assume that these grieving fans would go to such lengths to ‘prove Elvis lives,’ connecting dots where there are no dots to be connected. You so desperately don’t want to let go that it becomes impossible for you to loosen your grip. I’m certainly not one to crush the spirit of these people. He might be alive, after all, albeit such would be the greatest piece of deception in history, not impossible, but improbable.
“I know he invented rock and roll,” said critic Robert Christgau. And he did. Forever a legend, one that will always live on, in a way, through the phenomenal legacy he left behind.
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